ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Soldiers, Army civilians and representatives of local agencies gathered to support the Rock Island Arsenal kickoff for this year's National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, April 2 at Heritage Hall here.
Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command and senior mission commander at RIA, hosted the event. Sgt. Maj. Caprecia Miller, sergeant major of the Army's Sexual Harassment Assault Response Program, was keynote speaker.
"Army leaders remain fully committed to enhancing Army readiness through the elimination of sexual harassment, sexual assault and retaliations," said Miller.
"The DOD theme is 'Protecting our people protects our mission,' and the Army theme is 'SHARP, shaping a culture of trust'," Miller continued. "Trust is the bedrock of the Army's profession."
SAAPM has been observed every April since 2005. The observance is a part of SHARP, which involves educating all military personnel, military families and communities on prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The SHARP team coordinates events to keep the SHARP message prevalent all year long and has a variety of events slated in April. The proclamation ceremony was the first event.
"I think sexual harassment and sexual assault is corrosive," said Gamble. "It is eye-watering what people will do to each other. It is your duty to report [sexual harassment and sexual assault]."
"We are aiming for a climate of dignity and respect where everyone can meet their maximum potential," said Gamble.
During the ceremony, a video was shown of a poem written by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Edward Wilson, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey Korea. Wilson gave a riveting interpretation of how important it is for everyone to take a stand against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
"The video was very enlightening," said Sgt. 1st Class Babatunde Akala, Equal Opportunity adviser for ASC. "It talked about everything that you need to know about SHARP. I learned that one in six men were assaulted."
"I really think the SHARP team is doing an outstanding job," said Akala. "They do a lot of training. I really believe people are aware of what is going on around them now. People know where to report and who to complain to as well."
Also in attendance were local and state leaders, as well as law enforcement officials from the Quad Cities who have partnered with military organizations to spread awareness to support SHARP.